Integrated School Performance Improvement Review and Engagement

Malawi (Mchinji and Dedza), 2015-2018, Scottish Government

What we achieved

schools developed improvement plans based on their performance against National Education Standards
learners attended schools with evidence-based improvement plans
community members influenced school improvement priorities
local and national Ministry of Education staff trained on the new Malawi School Improvement and Support Toolkit

This data is vital for my work because it makes me effective. When I visit a school I now know exactly what to focus on rather than conducting a general unfocused visit. In this way schools are benefitting more from my support visits.

Primary Education Advisor
of headteachers found the project useful for improving their school
of headteachers found increased community awareness and participation in school improvement the most beneficial aspect
increase in the number of schools that met or exceeded national standards for students’ learning in lessons
increase in the number of schools that met or exceeded national standards for school self-evaluation and improvement


To improve school performance in Malawi the government needs accessible and accurate information so that resources and support can be directed where they are most needed.

Resource and management constraints, coupled with a lack of experience with data collection and sharing, means reliable information about schools is often not available or is not made accessible to schools, districts or central government in a coordinated way. In the INSPIRE (Integrated School Performance Improvement, Review and Engagement) project, we addressed these issues.

Aims and objectives

The aim of this project was to demonstrate an integrated system for understanding how schools are performing against the National Education Standards and planning for improvement at school, district and central levels.

We were asked by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to help develop the National Education Standards and a scalable version of our school performance review and demonstrate it in a district where we hadn’t previously worked.

How we got there

We supported every school in Mchinji district to carry out a low-cost, participatory assessment of their performance against the National Education Standards. This was alongside developing IT systems and reporting methods for data collection and sharing. By the end of the project, 100% of the primary schools in Dedza and Mchinji had school performance data available to national decision-makers.

Based on the data collected, each school was supported to develop an effective, relevant and realistic school improvement plan with active engagement across the school community. We also strengthened  capacity in  district and central government to develop education policies based  on accurate school data, while enabling communities to hold schools and districts accountable for meeting their education targets.

Working closely with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology we used our experience in Mchinji district as the basis for a plan to replicate the process throughout the country.